A little tour and first impressions of Veracruz
To say I slept well on my first night in Veracruz Mexico would be an understatement, I slept very well, waking up around 10am feeling very refreshed having had a good 8 hours’ sleep. Okay it was 4pm UK time and very late in the afternoon but I wasn’t in the grey boring cold UK, I was in sunny Veracruz Mexico, and I had the whole day ahead of me with that nice feeling of being on holiday and waking up in a new place to enjoy at my leisure.
Nice relaxing routine
As I previously mentioned, from a main tourist point of view in Veracruz all roads definitely lead to in and around the Zocalo Square, the main historical part of town as ‘The place to stay’ and I had been there, done that and worn the T-shirt and even bought a few souvenirs and I will say for those first 3 days it was a nice experience and I got myself into a nice relaxing routine.
I would start the day, usually early, going down to the hotel buffet breakfast while it was nice and quiet, sitting under the arches on the hotel terrace overlooking the square with my Mexico guide book open with a good internet connection too for my tablet and phone, always good for google maps and more research, and after having done a lot of walking and sightseeing around the town during the day, I would typically end the hot afternoons with a couple of hours’ quality time lounging around the hotel pool and I must say getting into that water was sheer heaven.
As well as the hotel and room being nice, I thought it was in an excellent location with everything you could possibly need within 5 minutes’ walk or less from the Banks, ATMS and a Bureau de change including handy branches of Oxxo convenience stores (Mexico’s answer to 7Eleven) open 24/7, as well as the usual familiar fast food places including a branch of subway which was just around the corner from the hotel Veracruz. For a good tasting fast food burger served with a bit more TLC than at McDonalds, I found myself becoming a regular at Carl’s Jr on Av. Independencia.
For nighttime entertainment too, everywhere was within only one or two blocks from the hotel with a good selection of restaurants and bars including a Lap dancing establishment and a late night girlie hostess bar. In the large department store style gift shop adjoining the hotel they even had Viagra for sale in the Pharmacy section for 1107 pesos for a pack of 4.
But, for those damn persistent street musicians playing the same old music (racket) who seemed to be standing outside every restaurant on the Square if they weren’t playing inside it, for me that novelty soon wore off. And Ironically that’s another reason that put me off Havana a bit. Maybe if I had come on a big cruise ship spending only a morning or afternoon there before sailing on to another Country and another half day tourist experience I may have had much different fonder memories, maybe, of those charming old musicians playing in such a quaint and picturesque old Colonial Square.
Still close to the main square just on the other side of Av. Ignacio Zaragoza the other ship and tourist trail leads to the boardwalk area next to the Malecon where there are some more good hotels and restaurants as well as shops and stalls selling authentic made in Mexico souvenirs. And while I thought some of the architecture here both old and new looked uncannily similar to pictures that I have seen of public buildings in Havana Cuba, Veracruz’s Malecon is I’m sure nothing like that of Havana’s famous sweeping bay.
Instead the seaward view is of a full working harbour, but, anywhere in the world where there are ships trading the seven seas and some harbour shore leave at the end of it, there are ladies of the night available. Less than even 5 minutes’ walk from the main square this part of town had a completely different feel to it.
All that was missing was the sea beach
Getting more into the holiday spirit of things, here I found my club Tropicana and set up HQ for the next 4 nights in the lovely 5 Star Hotel Emporio for a whopping £55 a night. Not a particularly inspiring building to look at from the outside, I just happened to stumble upon it by chance one evening when I was looking for somewhere different to have dinner. Once I had a good look around inside though I was hooked and while dining on some excellent local fish in the coffee shop I booked the room there and then instantly on my smart phone. For me this was probably the most perfect, luxurious non-resort town Centre hotel – all that is missing is the sea beach, but don’t you worry you can suntan- I have ever stayed in, even with the cheapest standard room which if you saw it you wouldn’t know and would pay over £200 a night for in Western Europe.
local Tour Bus
When you are looking for something though, in an unfamiliar town or place, you sometimes cannot see the wood for trees so there’s nothing better than taking a ride on the top deck of a local tour bus to survey the lay of the land, to get any ideas for any day time activity and for me also to see where the best local beaches were. And that’s what I did on day 2 in Veracruz.
Costa del Sol Mexico
There were two tour company’s doing this and both left from the Malecon. The afternoon bus tour I chose for 75 pesos went the furthest afield, apparently, following the main coast road past the Aquarium before carrying on all the way to the large Plaza las Americas shopping center and the so-called Zona Hotelera (seaside Tourist Hotel area) near Boca del Rio further down the coast. So, expecting to see a bit of the Spanish Costa del Sol perhaps, I took my seat on the top deck and while I did get a lot of costa del sol which burnt the end of my nose bright red, I felt I was still more in Mexico than Marbella.
Looking down at Bar Lerdo 9 and the start of the square and while on the subject of not seeing the wood for trees, immediately after on the opposite side of the road the bus passed Santana’s bar with the hostess bar Illusions above it which I never saw from the street.
The Baluarte 16th century fort and museum which was added to my list of places to visit.
To protect and to serve. These Federal Police units with their flashing lights and armed with what looked like submachine guns looked a lot more intimidating than they do in the picture. From time to time these patrols would appear all over Veracruz.
My later groundwork confirmed this section of beach close to the Aquarium just didn’t cut it.
About 4 miles from the Malecon out of Veracruz the beaches here got better but were still not perfect. Here I had my first sighting of an Irish Pub, McCarthy’s, and while good for a pint of Guinness and fish and chips visit after one of my afternoon sessions on the beach, I found this particular section of the coast quite boring. Better pictures of a much better beach will follow.
Coming up here in Part 4 …… a full report on Veracruz’s Mongering Street scene where I sampled the goods and also get to the bottom of things with this lovely half Mexican half Caribbean Chick.
By Monger Matt.